Ryman League Division One South
Saturday 28th February 2015
Match report: Darren Pasley
Pics: Stuart Tree
Casuals made it 3 wins from 3 in the league since their return from Brazil as they avenged Whytelafe’s heavy defeat earlier in the season.
A Dave Hodges goal in the 4th minute of stoppage time earned Casuals arguably their most impressive away points of the season against one of the leagues most potent attacks.
It was a strange opening to the game as Casuals looked to get to grips with the artificial surface now installed on Church Road. The home side who were looking for the points to further enhance their play off challenge were surprisingly sluggish and found it hard to develop any rhythm in the early stages.
Jason Henry had the games first effort as he cut in from the right and sent off a low effort, which forced Danny Bracken down.
Casuals waited for the quarter hour mark before troubling Sheikh Ceesay in the home goal. Jamie Byatt attempting to head over the keeper after Juevan Spencer’s cross fell kindly 10 yards out. On this occasion the home custodian was able to pluck the ball from the sky.
Henry seemed the most likely outlet for the hosts and he was unfortunate to just head past the right hand post after arriving before Bracken and Danny Dudley.
With the home side failing to penetrate as expected in the early stages Casuals started to apply themselves better further up the pitch and after a couple of well worked passages of play they opened the scoring in the 22nd minute.
Ross Defoe’s free kick into the area was only half cleared by Sol Patterson-Bohner and Jamie Byatt turned magnificently to fire past Ceesay from the edge of the area as the ball dropped down. It was a real strikers finish and a timely boost for the stand in skipper who had found goals hard to come by of late.
Casuals nearly made it two almost straight away. After being gifted possession back a flowing move down the right saw Maz Bettache just poke Spencer’s low pass just wide of the far post.
It really should have been double trouble for the hosts in the 26th minute as Casuals were awarded a spot kick. Spencer and Byatt combining well down the right again and Bentley Graham clipped the heels of the visiting skipper.
Ceesay came to his sides rescue as he got down left to palm Byatt’s spot kick away and keep his side in the match.
The Leafe visibly shocked were struggling to get back into the match with several inquests on the pitch between their players.
Carl Wilson-Denis had an effort cleared off the line as the host’s defence switched off from a corner as Casuals sought a deserved second.
The chances continued to come and 5 minutes before the break Byatt should have scored again as he found himself unmarked 6 yards out from Dave Hodges free kick but he headed down and wide of the gaping goal.
At the other end Roscoe D’Sane threatened with a header in a rare attack from the home side but 3 minutes before the break Casuals worked a well-deserved second.
After winning the ball in midfield Byatt played in Dave Hodges down the left and after accelerating past Dean Hamlin his low centre was finished at the first time of asking by Spencer despite Ceesay’s best efforts.
Knowing surely their opponents couldn’t be as poor in the second period as they was the first Casuals looked to stay compact and solid as the half began.
The home side had surprisingly withdrawn the dangerous Jason Henry at half time but replaced him with highly rated Tommy Smith.
The Leafe showed their intentions early on as Casuals backline of Danny Dudley and debutant Andy Mills were asked questions of for the first time during the afternoon.
11 minutes after the break and the hosts had a route back into the match. Bentley Graham weaving his way into the area and after being brought down by Dudley the ball broke to D’Sane who fired under Bracken with the ref seemingly about to blow for a spot kick.
Within 4 minutes and the match was back level. D’Sane again finishing off good work from Graham as he expertly stretched to fire home the right wing cross.
As expected the home side were now in full flow and Sam Clayton went close to turning the match completely around as he drifted through several tired challenges before seeing an effort rebound off the foot of the post and away to safety.
The same player was at it again in the 70th minute as he hit a brilliant left footed effort, which flew just over Bracken's upright.
Casuals brought on Max Austin as they looked to force their way back into the half after being very much on the back foot and the young striker nearly had an immediate impact as he darted past the attention of two defenders before dragging his effort wide.
As the game entered its final ten minutes it seemed the visitors had weathered the storm and were now looking to hit a decisive goal. Byatt and Hodges once again linked well with the latter having a cross from the left scrambled away by some desperate home defending.
The home side continued to offer a threat of their own and substitute Tom Pratt fired just over after being set up by D’Sane.
Matthews thought he had won the game with 3 minutes remaining when he met Hodges in-swinging free kick but not for the first time Ceesay came to his side’s rescue diving away to his left to parry clear.
With the game deep into stoppage time and the points seemingly spoiled Casuals loaded up the box for one final time as Bettache prepared to take a right sided free kick. Byatt rose above his marker and created the opportunity for Hodges to nip in and squeeze the ball between Ceesay’s legs to spark wild celebrations amongst the players and visiting fans alike.
There was no time for a final response from the hosts and Casuals had earned a hugely important victory points as the lower placed sides continued to pick up points.
After the match Matt Howard commented
"First half we were very good but we didn’t think they would be as poor as they were. They had a lot of the ball but didn’t really hurt us.
"The dressing rooms back onto one another and I could hear their manager stripping paint off the walls, screaming and hollering at his team. He got a massive reaction from them and they’ve come out and battered us in the second half.
"That said, the way we’ve played, we knew we’d create chances and on another day, the penalty goes in, the chance near the end goes in and we could’ve scored four or five goals. It’s pleasing to know we’ll always create chances, even against a strong side like Whyteleafe.
"I looked at their bench today and thought ‘what I’d give for someone like Tommy Smith to be at our club’… and he can’t get in their starting eleven at the moment, which shows you what a good, good side Whyteleafe are and they’ll be there or there-abouts come the end of the season.
"We worked on training with the back four coming into this match but unfortunately, we’ve missed Jake Downs today who couldn’t make it. He’s gutted that he couldn’t be here but we’ve done really well in his absence.
"The amount of times we’ve conceded a last minute goal, it’s about time we got one ourselves."
Stuart Tree's Pictures can be viewed here